A Critique of Friends – The One With The Problems

Hello everyone it’s Zainab, welcome or welcome back to my blog! First of all, Eid Mubarak to anybody celebrating Eid today or if you celebrated yesterday!

Today’s review is slightly different as it’s going to be more of a critique of the hit sitcom Friends I’m sure most of you have heard of this show, it was massive success albeit it’s problems. I have watched the show and I’ll admit it’s quite entertaining but that doesn’t mean it’s flawless. Today, I want to break down some of the show’s problems showing why it was inconsiderate to have some parts in the show, analysing a recent news report and why the show should be used as a learning curve in Hollywood.

Before I get into this, I just want to make it clear that this is my opinion, you are free to disagree. These are just my thoughts and I do not hate the show – I actually really like it, these are just some points I picked up through watching it many times as I’ve gotten older and maturer while reading up about it. Let’s jump into it!


One major reason why the show was subjected to major criticism was because of the lack of diversity in casting. The show featured an all-white main cast along with only a small amount of diversity in the supporting cast. It was not very often that many BAME actors with significant roles appeared on the show – I can only think of a few!

The worst part about it was this all-white cast’s home city in the show was New York! New York is probably one of the most diverse cities in America – so have an all-white cast living in New York not only creates a lack of media representation for minorities but is also not articulate to the true makeup of New York’s different demographics!

I’ve spoken numerous times about the damaging effects resulting from a lack of media representation – but it also could have been so relatable and heartwarming to have a more diverse cast featuring immigrant multicultural stories, that could have made the show just as successful instead of using the rude and weird humour that the show is famous for.

Contributions To Systemic Issues

Speaking of the humour, many of the shows jokes and punchlines seemed funny, but now almost 20 years later in a more tolerant society – some of the humour is simply not funny anymore and actually incredibly rude. From homophobia to fatshaming, the show definitely received criticism for contributing to many systemic issues, but if this show was airing in this day and age, I doubt it would’be been renewed for 10 seasons.

Many issues it contributed to:

  • Homophobia
  • Fatshaming
  • Toxic masculinity
  • Racial stereotypes
  • Gender stereotypes
  • Degrading women

Yet, It Was A Learning Curve

Despite the way the show went about it, it’s important to remember that Friends did put forward many topics that were controversial at the time and did do it’s best to challenge them. They could’ve done a much better job at going about this (and way more respectfully) but considering it was a 90s show and now in 2022 we have a new set of standards, perhaps the poor depiction of different issues opened up new conversations at the time about how these issues are presented onscreen such as gender roles, homosexuality, body positivity and many more.

Yet one thing I did love about the show was the value of friendship between the main 6 characters, I believe this was pivotal to the show’s success and definitely paved the way for friendship sitcoms – as that was beautifully handled.

Many people involved in the show did say if they went back in time they wish they didn’t do certain things or joke about certain issues, so at least the show’s popularity did encourage some retrospect as well allows our generation to understand how different jokes are harmful to some people.

So, I do believe that after this show different systemic issues could be thought about being implemented into shows more – with positive solutions being weaved into the plots. This show’s success was pivotal, it’s popularity caused by some criticism allowed future shows and sitcoms not to make the same mistakes the show did, and I am grateful for this.

A Recent News Report on the Co-Creator

Just over a week ago, a report emerged that the co-creator of Friends: Marta Kauffman planned to donate $4 million as a way for her to course correct the shows whiteness. Marta realised how systemic racism had been internalised and how she brought it in in ways she never realised, according to the Guardian. As a way to correct her mistakes, she plans to fund a professorship which aims to support ‘scholarships on the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora.’

Read The Full Article On Marta Kauffman here.

Like I said, it’s really good to finally see some accountability being taken, despite it being almost 20 years ago. I hope Hollywood creatives use Friends as a lesson to learn from, they should acknowledge different societal issues, but it should be done gently and respectfully with solutions being presented along with a representative cast.


In Criticism Of: Friends Article

Friends Article in Cosmopolitan

Toxic Masculinity in Friends

Nicki Swift Youtube Video on Controversial Friends Moments

Thank you for reading this post today – this is a very popular show so I’d love to hear your opinions too. Please comment down below your thoughts on the show and what you think about the recent article!

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14 thoughts on “A Critique of Friends – The One With The Problems

    • Zainab

      Thanks Tessa! Yeah I didn’t just want to talk negatively, because at the end of the day I am looking at it from a 2022 perspective – and I think thankfully on a whole we have much higher standards of morality today!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. 𝓔𝓮𝓼𝓱𝓪𝓷𝓲 💜

    I’ve never watched Friends, but I do believe that a lot of shows made a while ago are much less sensitive about things like racial stereotypes and stereotypes based on gender, and diversity than the shows these days. I think the shows should have been more sensitive, but that wasn’t really the idea that a lot of people had back then, and this is coming from a 2022 perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Happy Panda

    I am actually rewatching FRIENDS currently, after a decade and I was actually making points to highlight about these issues. But it was a different time period for sure and an internet-less period – hence, they could get away with these.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Zainab

      Yeah I’m glad you were able to see too! And I totally agree, it was easier back then but it’s good now that we can hold any stereotypes to account – but it’s also important that I’m so glad this show was almost like a lesson, because on a whole this type of humour isn’t really used in shows produced today!


  3. Pooja G

    I’m rewatching Friends at the moment I absolutely agree with all the issues you have mentioned but I’m glad they are taking steps and taking accountability. I think it does have it’s issues but if we put it into context it’s one of the more politically correct shows to come out of the 90’s/2000’s. Sometimes I watch other shows and the stuff they let pass is insane. Not saying that makes it okay but it does make sense why they were not really held accountable for certain things when the show was still on the air.
    Oh and Eid Mubarak!

    Liked by 1 person

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